Have you got your heart set on starting a new career in the field of healthcare? Perhaps you’ve narrowed your search between becoming a patient care technician (PCT) or a medical assistant (MA). Both jobs share many similarities… and you’re probably wondering how a patient care technician vs medical assistant role differs. If you can relate to this, join us as we explore the difference between medical assistant and patient care technician’s duties, workplace locations, and employment outlook. Our goal is to provide you with more info so you can determine the most suitable career path for you.
What’s the difference between medical assistant and patient care technician?
At first glance, you might think that MAs and PCTs have identical roles within the healthcare industry. Sure, they can work side-by-side in the same medical facilities and practices, sharing some of the same clinical duties, such as providing patient care, monitoring vital signs, and performing phlebotomy procedures.
Yet, MAs and PCTs play distinctive roles within the medical sector, each drawing upon specific skill sets and attributes unique to each vocation. Additionally, patient care technician vs medical assistant training and certification pathways vary too… both providing individual career prospects within the healthcare sector.
So, let’s dive into the difference between medical assistant and patient care technician and the tasks associated with each vocation.
Duties of a medical assistant
You could say that medical assistants are one of the professionals that keeps healthcare facilities functioning efficiently. While your responsibilities may vary depending on the medical environment you choose to work in, the role combines a healthy mix of administrative and clinical duties.
The administrative elements of a medical assistant’s role are hugely rewarding. Mainly because you’re often front-of-house in most health centers, and your responsibilities can include:
- Greeting patients and answering phone calls
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Updating patient medical histories and electronic health records (EHRs)
- Processing patient insurance information and documentation
The clinical duties of the job frequently may have some overlap when comparing patient care technician vs medical assistant tasks, although the role of an MA includes more indirect patient care. These clinical tasks include:
- Recording patient vital signs, including temperature, blood pressure, and pulse rate
- Patient preparation and care before, during, and after medical examinations
- Performing basic medical procedures, including EKGs (electrocardiograms) and venipuncture (drawing blood)
- Sterilizing and preparing medical equipment and examination rooms
Duties of a patient care technician
PCT’s are often primarily associated with providing more direct care for patients when comparing patient care technician vs medical assistant responsibilities. As a result, PCT’s typically perform more clinical skills, which can pave the way for other opportunities within the healthcare industry.
Like MAs, patient care technicians also monitor vital signs, update EHRs, and collect specimens for laboratory testing. However, PCTs’ primary focus is providing additional hands-on patient care, which includes:
- Bathing, dressing, and assisting patients with daily activities
- Monitoring patients’ fluid intake and output
- Responding to medical emergencies, including assisting with CPR and resuscitation efforts
- Administering medication under the supervision of doctors, physicians, and registered nurses (RNs)
- Educating patients and their families, offering guidance on forthcoming procedures and post-care instructions.
Where can a PCT work?
Similar to the overlapping duties comparing patient care technician vs medical assistant, you can also find PCTs working alongside MAs in some medical facilities. Nevertheless, because PCTs offer more direct patient engagement, certain medical facilities can benefit from their clinical skill sets.
Working in close partnership with medical practitioners, nurses, and various healthcare professionals, patient care technicians play a vital role in numerous healthcare settings, such as:
- Local, private, and state hospitals
- Home and ambulatory healthcare services
- Residential care homes and hospice care facilities
- Private surgical clinics
Of course, the tasks required of a PCT may vary depending on where you are employed. However, these essential skill sets are crucial in ensuring patients always receive high levels of care throughout their treatments.
Where can a medical assistant work?
Medical assistants have an equally abundant variety of workplace locations for employment in the medical industry. Like PCTs, you can find MAs in hospitals, however, the majority of MAs typically work in physicians offices or clinics. Nevertheless, when comparing patient care technician vs medical assistant employment, MAs are more commonly found in these healthcare settings:
- Private physicians and doctors’ offices
- Specialist healthcare facilities, including orthopedic, dermatology, and cardiology
- Sports and Veteran rehabilitation clinics
- Clinics or urgent care facilities
- Outpatient departments
Naturally, every healthcare facility that employs MAs can demand a different balance of responsibilities. For example, working in a doctor’s office might lean more toward administrative tasks, whereas rehabilitation clinics may prioritize more hands-on patient care.
Which is better, medical assistant or patient care technician?
Of course, pursuing a career as a PCT or an MA can provide a fulfilling and promising career path. Although having explored the various tasks and workplace locations, other essential factors must be considered.
Elements such as the difference between medical assistant and patient care technician’s educational requirements and career outlooks are worth considering, too. These can also help you choose the best individual career path for you.
Medical assistant vs patient care technician education requirements
The core differences between a medical assistant vs patient care technician often reside in the MA course incorporating the required administrative training. In comparison, the PCT program is more heavily focused on the clinical care elements.
Other differences include, as an aspiring MA, taking a National Medical Assistant certification exam. Alternatively, PCTs challenge the Patient Care Technicians certification exam, should you wish to pursue a career as a PCT.
Patient care technician vs medical assistant summary
In conclusion, whichever path you choose, entering the healthcare industry as either an MA or a PCT is a genuinely satisfying career move. So, if you’re currently choosing between becoming a medical assistant vs patient care technician, it’s critical to weigh up all these factors to ensure you pick the right path for you.
Ready to explore how to get on the road to your new career?!
Take control of your career by training to become a patient care technician or a medical assistant with Dorsey College and pursue a new vocation in the healthcare field. Once you’ve selected a career path between patient care technician vs medical assistant, with just a year’s training, you too could be applying for entry-level healthcare industry jobs.
Dorsey College’s team provides excellent classroom-based learning, backed with hands-on training and externships, designed to enhance your progression throughout the program. With multiple campus locations across the Metro Detroit area (as well as Saginaw and Grand Rapids), Dorsey College is here to make your dream job become a reality. Programs will vary by campus.